P2308R0: Template parameter initialization

Audience: CWG
S. Davis Herring <herring@lanl.gov>
Los Alamos National Laboratory
February 10, 2023


R0: issue drafting converted to a paper after initial review.


CWG2459 points out that there is no specification for how template parameters are initialized beyond “conversion to the type of the template-parameter” ([temp.type]/1.3) and “a converted constant expression ([expr.const]) of the type of the template-parameter” ([temp.arg.nontype]/2). As originally reported by Richard Smith, with template parameters of class type that have lvalue template parameter objects whose addresses can be examined during non-trivial construction and for which “converted constant expression” is inadequate, this becomes an acute concern. This paper resolves that issue, along with CWG2450 (including an extension of Jens Maurer’s drafting) and CWG2049 which extend the set of potential initializers.


To avoid address-based paradoxes, template arguments for a template parameter of class type C are used to first initialize a temporary of that type called an exemplar. No restrictions are imposed on the conversion from a template argument to a constructor parameter, since explicit and list-initialization may already be used to limit conversions in a similar fashion. Each exemplar is used to copy-initialize the template parameter object to which it is (to be) template-argument-equivalent; the initialization is required to produce a template-argument-equivalent value. The multiple initializations of the template parameter object are (required to be) all equivalent and produce no side effects, so it is unobservable which happen. Using the same copy constructor for the exemplar (when the template argument is a template parameter object) and for initializing the template parameter object guarantees that the same value will be selected, as required for deduction, specialization, and the notion of the current specialization to make sense.


Relative to N4928.



Change paragraph 3:

A default argument shall be specified only in the parameter-declaration-clause of a function declaration or lambda-declarator or in a template-parameter ([temp.param]); in the latter case, the initializer-clause shall be an assignment-expression. […]


Insert before bullet (1.6):

as a template argument ([temp.arg.nontype])


Replace all uses template-argument in [temp.param]/12–16 with “template argument”.


Change the grammar in paragraph 1:






Change paragraph 4:


For a template-argumenttemplate argument that is a class type or a class template, the template definition has no special access rights to the members of the template-argumenttemplate argument.



— end example]

Change paragraph 5:

When template argument packs or default template-argumenttemplate arguments are used, a template-argument list can be empty. […]

Change paragraph 7:

If the use of a template-argumenttemplate argument gives rise to an ill-formed construct in the instantiation of a template specialization, the program is ill-formed.


Change paragraph 1:

If the type T of a template-parameter ([temp.param]) contains a placeholder type ([dcl.spec.auto]) or a placeholder for a deduced class type ([dcl.type.class.deduct]), the type of the parameter is the type deduced for the variable x in the invented declaration
T x = template-argumentE ;

where E is the template argument provided for the parameter.

[Note: E is a template-argument or (for a default template argument) initializer-clause. — end note]

If a deduced parameter type is not permitted for a template-parameter declaration ([temp.param]), the program is ill-formed.

Insert before paragraph 2:

When considering a template argument A for a non-type template-parameter of (possibly deduced) type T, a glvalue exemplar expression of type T, or of the referenced type if T is a reference type, is selected. The result of the examplar determines the value of the template-parameter and the identity of the specialization ([temp.type]).

Change paragraph 2:

A template-argument for a non-type template-parameterIf T is not a class type and A is not a braced-init-list, A shall be a converted constant expression ([expr.const]) of the type of the template-parameterT; the exemplar is A (as converted).

[Note: If the template-argument is an overload set (or the address of such, including forming a pointer-to-member), the matching function is selected from the set ([over.over]). — end note]

Insert before paragraph 3:

Otherwise, a temporary variable
const T v = A;

is introduced. If the full-expression of the init-declarator for v is not a constant expression when interpreted as a constant-expression ([expr.const]), the program is ill-formed. The lifetime of v ends immediately after initializing it and any template parameter object (see below). The exemplar is v.

If T is a class type, the value of the exemplar determines the identity of the template parameter object for the parameter ([temp.param]). Each template parameter object P is copy-initialized from an unspecified exemplar whose value nominates P. If, for any such initialization:

  1. the initialization would be ill-formed, or
  2. the full-expression of an invented init-declarator for the initialization would not be a constant expression when interpreted as a constant-expression ([expr.const]), or
  3. the initialization would produce a value not template-argument-equivalent ([temp.type]) to the value of the exemplar,

the program is ill-formed.

Change the example in paragraph 4:


template<auto n> struct B { /* ... */ };
B<5> b1;                        // OK, template parameter type is int
B<'a'> b2;                      // OK, template parameter type is char
B<2.5> b3;                      // OK, template parameter type is double
B<void(0)> b4;                  // error: template parameter type cannot be void

template<int i> struct C { /* ... */ };
C<{ 42 }> c1;  // OK

struct J1 {
  J1 *self=this;
B<J1{}> j1;  // error: template parameter contains pointer to temporary

struct J2 {
  J2 *self=this;
  constexpr J2() {}
  constexpr J2(const J2&) {}
B<J2{}> j2;  // error: template parameter object not
             // template-argument-equivalent to temporary exemplar


Change bullet (1.3):

the exemplars ([temp.arg.nontype]) for their corresponding non-type template-argument⁠s are template-argument-equivalent (see below) after conversion to the type of the template-parameter, and